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blake

pontcHartrain™

neW orLeans know-it-all ne

Questions for Blake: askblake@gambitweekly.com

Hey Blake, Where did the rockery service station and rockery ace hardWare on the corner of robert e. Lee and canaL bouLevard get their names? Julio

Dear Julio,     They  were  named  for  a  legendary  Lakeview  teenage  hangout  called  the  Rockery Inn that once stood at 7039 Canal  Blvd., on the corner of Conrad Street, on  the other end of the commercial strip that  now  includes  Gauchet’s  Rockery  Service  Station  (corner  of  Canal  and  Robert  E.  Lee boulevards) and the adjacent Rockery   Ace Hardware. 

Just like Grandma Used to Make

HOME-MADE

Sicilian Meatballs or Italian Sausage w i t h r e d gr av y ov e r y ou r c hoic e of pa s t a

closed the doors, but the customers who  were regulars stayed in there and we partied until daylight. I was 29.”     The  Rockery  Inn  was  torn  down  to  make  way  for  the  modern  Signorelli  Building  (named  for  John  Signorelli)  and  a Hibernia Bank (now Capital One Bank).  In  addition  to  being  a  touchstone,  so  to  speak, for several generations of teenagers,  the Rockery  Inn  helped  launch  the  career of iconic Italian restaurateur Tony  Angello,  whose  namesake  eatery  has  operated  in  Lakeview  for  more  than  a  generation.  Angello  got  his  start  as  a  waiter  at  the  Rockery  in  the  early  1940s  and later became a manager there. Years  later,  Angello  returned  the  favor  by  hiring Vincent Signorelli as a waiter at Tony  Angello’s  Restaurant.  Vincent  says  he  still maintains a close relationship  with  Angello,  and  other  Signorelli  family  members  have  worked  at  the  restaurant.  “From  1941  to  present,  four  generations  have worked 

Breakfast

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Lunch • Dinner

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daily 11:30am-10pm, fri & sat till 11pm

08

640

F R E NCH M E N ST R E E T

Corner of Royal Street 9 45 . 4 47 2

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    Rockery  Inn  boasted  it  was  “famous  for  fried  chicken,”  but  from  the  1930s  through  the  ’60s  it  was  even  more  renowned  as  a  hangout  for  teens.  They  would gather to show off their cars and  order  hamburgers  by  curbside  service,  which  they  could  do  by  flashing  their  headlights.  The  inn  got  its  name  from  the exterior construction of the building,  which  was  made  of  ballast  stones  used  to  help  ships  and  barges  stay  balanced  on  the  trip  downriver.  The  stones  were  discarded once the vessels reached port.  The  stones  gave  the  Rockery  its  distinctive look, as well as its name.     The  Rockery  Inn  closed  on  New  Year’s  Eve  in  1969.  “The  day  we  closed,  the  liquor license expired at midnight,” recalls  Vincent  Signorelli,  whose  father  John  Signorelli  acquired  the  property  in  1941  and ran the Rockery Inn. “At midnight we 

together,” he says.     As for the service  station  and  hardware  store,  Arthur  Derbes opened the  Rockery  Shell  service station in 1939  and  operated  it  for  about  three  decades.  The  current  proprietors,  Stan and Dan Gau-  chet,  have  operated  Gauchet ’s  Rockery  Service  since  1978.  The  station  offers  a  full-service  mechanic  and  convenience  store  as  well  as  gasoline.  The  adjacent Rockery Ace Hardware is another  Lakeview  mainstay,  and  together  the  hardware store and the Gauchets carry on  the Rockery name.  A postcard image shows the Rockery Inn in the 1960s. Today the location (the Rockery’s front door was on the left end of the property) is home to a Capital One bank and the Signorelli office building.

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